Covid no barrier to East End gym helping disabled people stay fit

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A community gym in the East End of London is helping people with disabilities keep fit and boost their mental wellbeing at home during the lockdown.

Ability Bow usually caters for people with physical and mental disabilities from Tower Hamlets and beyond at its fully-accessible base at St Paul Old Ford Church, Bow.

As Covid restrictions continue, it is offering online individual and group exercise classes, alongside ‘virtual cuppa’ social sessions to help people keep fit and stay connected.

The scheme is made possible thanks to an £89,200 grant to the gym – a registered charity – from City Bridge Trust, the City of London Corporation’s charity funder.

Chairman of the Bridge Trust Committee Dhruv Patel said: “Like many organisations, Ability Bow has shown great resilience and adaptability to ensure it can continue providing a vital service to its members during the lockdown.

“Taking part in online classes and social sessions will mean people can enjoy the extra motivation, enjoyment and feeling of togetherness that comes from exercising with others.”

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Ability Bow was set up in 2006 and offers affordable membership to people with disabilities and long-term health conditions, who can use specialist equipment accessible to all. Many of its members have been shielding during the pandemic and some have also had to battle the effects of the virus.

Victoria Kent, Ability Bow founder and CEO, said: “Covid has meant the isolation and loneliness many of our members suffered with already has been exacerbated, and exercising with others – even virtually – has a really powerful impact on reducing that.

“Alongside a short-term boost in mood and mental wellbeing, in the long term people also feel a sense of control from sticking to a routine and taking positive steps to help themselves physically and mentally.

“Many of our members have had to deal not only with lockdown restrictions but with the impact of the virus itself, so this funding means we’ll be able to help more people build up their fitness again, boost their confidence and lift their mood.”

More information about Ability Bow is available online at www.abilitybow.org

The City of London Corporation’s charity funder, City Bridge Trust, is London’s biggest independent grant giver, making grants of over £25 million a year to tackle disadvantage across the capital – www.citybridgetrust.org.uk

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